Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, Chairman of the Office for Refugee Policy of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, welcomed Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) new Guide to Meeting the Policing Needs of Asylum Seekers and Refugees. At the launch of the guide on Wednesday, Mr Robert Ayling, ACPO spokesman on asylum and immigration issues and Deputy Chief Constable of the Kent County Constabulary, said: "The policing needs of asylum-seekers and refugees represent one of the most important challenges of recent times. "In preparing this Policing Guide we have worked with representatives from a number of other agencies to identify the key issues and highlight best practice. The guide will ensure that police forces and local communities around the country are in the best possible position to respond. "The guide succeeds only if the entire community wants it to succeed. To achieve our goals, we must work, and do work, on a daily basis with a variety of statutory agencies and the community. It is vital that communities receive accurate messages and that irresponsible and inflammatory comments are avoided. Managing the influx of people into local communities is never easy but the co-operation of responsible people goes a long way to reducing problems." "Asylum-seekers are entitled to live free from crime, harassment and intimidation as any other member of our society. In the same way, asylum-seekers who offend will be treated exactly as any other offender. " Bishop O'Donoghue said: "In November 2000, the Catholic Bishops' Conference supported powers for the police to challenge false and inflammatory statements about asylum seekers. He continued: "Politicians and the media have a particular responsibility to make sure that the asylum debate is conducted in a responsible manner, especially at this time, given that we could be having a General Election. ACPO's initiative in this regard is very timely and shows leadership."
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